15 Byzantine Related States Outside Byzantium Part1 (1-7)- Places where Byzantine culture went

Places formed physically and culturally from Byzantium: Western Roman Empire, Exarchates of Italy and Africa, Republic of Venice, Cilician Armenia, Serbian Empire, Bosnian Kingdom, First and Second Bulgarian Empires (includes the history of Rome, Byzantium, Venice, Armenia, Serbia, and Bulgaria) 

I can tell you that this city mastered the entire universe; she placed beneath her feet Pontus, Armenia, Paphlagonia, the Amazon Lands, Cappadocia… Spain up to Cadiz, Libya, Mauritania, Ethiopia, Beledes, Scude, Numidia, Africa, and Egypt.” -final speech of Emperor Constantine XI, 1453

Select this to read Byzantine Related States 8-15 (Part2) 

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Welcome back to another article by the Byzantium Blogger! My last article was a special edition feature on the new fresco series I completed at the bathroom, which was that break from Byzantine history overload. Now however, I am back with another historical Byzantine article, not only about the Byzantine Empire but of the lesser known history, lesser known that of Byzantium, of the countries once part of it. Now for this article, I will focus on a topic I always wanted to write about, which are various states outside the Byzantine Empire but still have affiliations to it. Here, this article will cover 15 different states and regions that either were once under Roman-Byzantine control until becoming independent, have cultural connections to the Byzantine Empire, is a break-away rump-state of the empire, or has a connection to the empire through the imperial bloodline, but in one way or another, these 15 states have a direct connection to Byzantium even if they are separate states that had been ruled by different rulers. These 15 Byzantine related states will include legitimate Roman states such the western half of the Roman Empire after the division of the east and west in 395 and the Byzantine Exarchates of Italy and Africa. Other than these, it will also include the Republic of Venice as well as the Bulgarian and Serbian Empires, the Kingdom of Bosnia, and the Kingdom of Cilician Armenia which were once on Byzantine soil but broke away from it, although Serbia and Bulgaria had been influenced heavily by the Byzantines despite separating from their empire. Meanwhile other Medieval kingdoms such as France, England, or Hungary will not appear here as they have not formed out of Byzantium despite having some imperial marriages with each other. The Holy Roman Empire will not be included here as it was not created directly from the Roman Empire despite its name; neither will the Crusader kingdoms in the Middle East, early medieval Barbarian kingdoms, the Sassanid Persian Empire, Arab caliphates and emirates, the Turkish sultanates, Italian duchies, nor the Papal States will be mentioned here as they have no direct connections to Byzantium even if they were or were not formed from Byzantine soil despite several interactions with each other, also the Republic of Genoa will be excluded from this article too despite being a close ally of the empire because Genoa unlike Venice did not start up from Byzantine land. The Ottoman Empire too will be excluded even though it succeeded the Byzantine Empire, because it was not established within the Byzantine Empire but from conquering former Byzantine lands and when it took Constantinople in 1453, the Ottoman Empire was already fully functional. Ever since doing the complete genealogy of the Byzantine emperors and discovering all the empires and kingdoms the Byzantines married into, doing another article on related Byzantines states which I have discovered from making an article came up in my head and urged me to write about it. Now, here I am writing this article on my new discoveries from my recent project, although this article may not cover all the states Byzantium was affiliated with in terms of being a fragment of it, but here I would do my best to cover the most important states that were born out of Byzantium. However, since mentioning all 15 states in one article will be too much and too long, I will cut it short to 7 states that have been born from and influenced by the Byzantine Empire while the remaining 8 will be featured in the next article coming in a few days. This article may be similar to the 2 part series I wrote on Byzantine views on the world around them, however this one is not so much on how the Byzantines viewed other powers around them but how states around Byzantium formed and were influenced by the Byzantines by having cultural cultural and political connections. Doing this article had also made me discover so many new things about the lands and history around Byzantium, particularly Serbia and Bosnia in which their medieval history is underrated and not as talked about much like the Byzantine Empire but are still equally as interesting as Byzantine history is and studying their unknown histories will help understanding the situation of these countries today. Anyway, with Byzantium’s 1,100-year existence, new states were definitely born out of it and influenced culturally and politically by Byzantium. This article will feature the interesting yet lesser-known stories of the formations of various kingdoms of Europe and nearby which do have some Byzantine origins, both being “byzantine” being confusing and from the Byzantine Empire itself.

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Byzantine Imperial flag and symbols
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Byzantine Empire at its greatest extent, 555

Note: This article is based on intensive research of the histories of various countries, some portions on these histories may be opinionated. 

Warning: THIS IS A VERY LONG ARTICLE!! 

Other Byzantine Articles from the Byzantium Blogger:

Early Middle Ages, the Basics 

Byzantium, the Basics 

Byzantine Art and Architecture 

Byzantine Military Figures and Sketches

7 Reasons to be Interested in Byzantium

The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire 

The 94 Emperors of Byzantium

The Ravenna Mosaics and What to Expect

Foreign Lands and People According to the Byzantines Part1

Foreign Lands and People According to the Byzantines Part2 

The Art of War in the Byzantine World 

The Complete Genealogy of Byzantine Emperors 

Watch this video on the rulers of Europe every year for a summary of this article. 

Watch this to see a summarised anime opening of the Byzantine Empire. 

 

I. Western Roman Empire, 395-476

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Western Roman Empire flag

 The first state to open this article will be the Western Roman Empire, which is not to be confused with the Holy Roman Empire in Western Europe that formed in 800 but the western half of the Roman Empire that was created in 395 where the eastern half of the empire became the Byzantine Empire itself. Back in 286, the Roman emperor Diocletian started the system known as the Tetrarchy dividing the empire between east and west with a separate ruler or Augustus and in 293 the eastern and western halves were divided into quarters where the senior emperor or Augustus rules one quarter and the junior emperor or Caesar rules the other one. This system turned out to be a complete disaster and the empire was united again by Constantine the Great (r. 306-337) after fighting for complete control, though after his death things became worse again with rulers fighting for full control of the massive Roman Empire that was too large to control. Finally, with the death of Emperor Theodosius I on January 17, 395- who had died having once again control of the complete Roman Empire- made the final division of east and west between his sons Arcadius (r. 395-408) who got the east and Honorius (r. 395-423) who got the west. The Eastern Empire would continue to grow and survive as it had the richer and more significant parts of the old empire while the Western Empire with the less important parts of the Roman world, a weakening army, and economy gradually declined not even lasting 100 years since the formal east-west division of 395. Although when it began in 395, the Western Empire still had Italy, Hispania (Spain and Portugal), Gaul (France), Britain, Western Germany, Pannonia (Austria, Slovenia, Hungary), Dalmatia (Croatia), and the western part of North Africa including Carthage which had long been under Roman control. In the west, the capital however was not Rome ever since the days of the first Tetrarchy at the end of the 3rd century, instead the empire was first based in Mediolanum (Milan) until Honorius moved it to the swampy city of Ravenna in 402 and here, the capital continued to grow as a cultural center of Christian art as seen in the church mosaics despite the empire under severe pressure from barbarians from both outside and inside. In both the east and west, barbarian generals have had growing influence over the imperial courts, the east however was able to manage it but, in the west, imperial territory had been swiftly being taken over by barbarians. In 455, the Theodosian Dynasty which had founded the eastern and western empires came to an end with the assassination of Valentinian III (r. 425-455) which then led to a succession of non-dynastic emperors who had mostly been puppets of the eastern emperors (Byzantine emperors), particularly Leo I (r. 457-474) until the last western emperor was overthrown in 476. Meanwhile, outside the empire, the Huns from the far east have pressured the barbarian tribes of Europe to live within the Roman Empire leading to them breaking away and forming kingdoms of the their own such as the Burgundian Kingdom in France formed in 411, the Visigoth Kingdom in Spain formed in 418, and the Vandal Kingdom in North Africa formed in 435. Britain however was abandoned by the Romans in 410, the same year the Visigoths- crossing over the Rhine earlier- led by Alaric sacked Rome, taking Honorius’ sister Galla Placidia as a hostage, and taking over parts of Southern Italy for a time before establishing their kingdom in Spain. The Vandals on the other hand coming from Europe arrived in Spain and crossed over to North Africa where they would build a navy that would carry out a more severe sack of Rome in 455 led by their king, Geiseric. Ravenna, the capital meanwhile had continued to remain untouched until 476 when the Ostrogoths led by the Heruli Odoacer deposed the last western emperor, the 16-year-old Romulus Augustus after the Battle of Ravenna. Romulus although was emperor for only less than a year (475-476) coming into power after his father, the rebellious general Flavius Orestes of barbarian descent deposed the emperor Julius Nepos, thus crowning his son emperor. Julius Nepos was exiled to Split in today’s Croatia where he would be emperor in exile until his death in 480 while Orestes was killed in the Battle of Ravenna from 2-4 September of 476 ending with Romulus surrendering to Odoacer and his army. Odoacer, having overthrown the last emperor was backed by the Roman senate as King of Italy in which he would also pay tribute to the eastern emperor Zeno (r. 474-491). However, in 493 Odoacer was assassinated by the Ostrogoth Theodoric who was backed by the eastern empire as king of the Ostrogoth Kingdom of Italy.

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The division of Eastern (purple) and Western (red) Roman Empires, 395
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Map of the Western Roman Empire during the reign of Honorius (395-423)
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Map of the Barbarian invasions into the Roman Empire
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Visigoths sack Rome, 410
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Vandals sack Rome, 455

 

The east on the other hand was spared from barbarian attacks as they had the money and resources to pay them off while the west’s economy had declined as Roman authority over Western Europe weakened. When in its 81-year existence, the Western Roman Empire continued strongly practicing the Nicene Christianity ever since Paganism was suppressed during the reign of Theodosius I (379-495). Latin was official language of the western empire was widely spoken just as Greek was in the east, although regional languages were spoken in the west as well and the Roman senate still continued to have a part in governing the state. After the Western Roman Empire met its end in 476, the Visigoths would continue to rule Spain until 721 when they were overthrown by the Moors from North Africa, France would be transformed into the Kingdom of the Franks by Clovis I in 481, the Alemanni would rule Germany until 911, Britain would turn into small kingdoms ruled by the Saxons from Scandinavia in the next decades, and the Vandals in North Africa would be defeated in 534 while the Ostrogoths in Italy finished off in 553 by the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) reconquests of Justinian I (r. 527-565). During Justinian I’s reign, his generals Belisarius and Narses would recapture most of the lost western parts of the Roman Empire- although only retaking the Western Mediterranean- but the Byzantines from Constantinople were still able to retake all of Italy, North Africa including Carthage, and Southern Spain for the Romans. Roman rule in these parts of the west however would not last very long as by the 7th century, Roman control had completely slipped out of the west and a period of chaos known as the “Dark Ages” came in. However, in 800, a new empire was formed with its emperor, the Frankish king Charlemagne crowned by the pope in Rome as the first Holy Roman Emperor, although this empire was only formed then and has no connection to the old Roman Empire the way Byzantium in the east did, except that its first emperor was crowned by the pope in Rome. To many, the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 is marked as the end of the Roman Empire as a whole, but really the Roman Empire met its ultimate end when Constantinople fell to the Ottomans in 1453.

 

II. The Exarchates of Italy (584-751) and Africa (585-698)

Watch this for more info of the Byzantines’ reconquest of North Africa from the Vandals (from Kings and Generals). 

Watch this for more info of the Byzantines’ reconquest of Italy in the 550s (from Kings and Generals). 

When the Western Roman Empire fell in 476, its capital which was Ravenna in northeast Italy became the seat of the new Italian Kingdom under Odoacer (476-493) and Theodoric (493-526). In the east on the other hand, Justinian I began his reign in 527 and would soon enough launch his ultimate conquest of retaking the western provinces of the Roman Empire that had previously fallen to the barbarians such as the Ostrogoths and Vandals. In 534, the Byzantine general Belisarius defeated the Vandal Kingdom of North Africa establishing Byzantine rule there, after capturing its capital which was Carthage and in 540, Belisarius captured Ravenna from the Ostrogoths restoring Roman control and making it the seat of the provincial governor. Although the war between the Byzantines and Goths in Italy was finished with the Byzantines under the general Narses victorious in 553, Italy would soon enough face a new threat in 568- 3 years after Justinian I’s death- when the Germanic Lombards began to invade Italy from the north. The solution to this problem as it turned out was the same old thing the Roman emperors of the past did, which was to divide the empire. In this case however, the Byzantine emperor Maurice (r. 582-602) in 584 created the 2 Exarchates: one based in Italy and the other in North Africa where its ruler or exarch (basically a viceroy) will act as if he’s the emperor but still answers to the emperor in Constantinople as the emperor was too busy managing an empire so large and the east already had its own problems. Why I will include the exarchates in this article is because they were semi-autonomous and both acted as their own “Byzantine Empires” in the far parts of the empire where the exarch is the acting ruler or viceroy. The ruler of these exarchates was the Exarch (exarchos in Greek meaning regional lord), which is also used as a term for religious leaders of a certain area in the Eastern Christian Churches. The Exarchate in Italy was based in Ravenna, the former capital of the Western Romans and Ostrogoths and here the Byzantines had already improved the city with additional churches and impressive mosaics such as the ones in San Vitale. The rule of the exarch of Italy extended to the rest of the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and modern-day coastal Croatia and Slovenia but by 590, the Lombards have already taken most of Italy leaving only Ravenna down to Rome- where the pope was based in- via a narrow strip of land, the Ligurian Coast, Calabria, Venetia, Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica, and the Dalmatian Coast under the exarchate. The exarchate in Italy would begin to lose its power starting in 727 when the people of Ravenna- probably inspired by the pope in Rome- rebelled against the Iconoclast policies of the Byzantine emperor Leo III (r. 717-741). The exarchate would finally fall in 751 when the last exarch Eutychius was defeated and killed in battle with the Lombard king Aistulf capturing Ravenna without the Byzantine emperor Constantine V (r. 741-775), thus pushing the Byzantines to the south of Italy where they would continue to rule it as the Catepanate of Italy based in Bari until the 11th century. The Lombards would not hold Ravenna for long as the Franks captured it in 756 passing on the land to the Papacy where it would be theirs for the next centuries to come.

 

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The Byzantine mosaics at San Vitale, Ravenna

 

In this part of North Africa known as the Maghreb, the situation was the same; first of all, the Vandals took over this part of North Africa from the Romans in 435 and built their kingdom based in Carthage, once the ancient capital of the maritime Carthaginian Republic, the rival of the Roman Republic. However, in 534 the Byzantine general Belisarius under Emperor Justinian I recaptures North Africa for the Romans but despite driving away the Vandals, the local Berber tribes happened to be posing a threat for the Byzantines. Just like in Italy where the emperor in Constantinople could not handle the situation himself, the same emperor, Maurice in 585 created the 2nd Exarchate, which was Africa and based in Carthage. Since Roman authority wasn’t so strong in this part and the emperor was all the way in the east, the exarchate’s main mission in North Africa was to strengthen the army’s presence to fight of the Berber tribes from the Sahara Desert. The Exarchate of Africa covered a much larger amount of land than the one of Italy; the one in Africa included modern day Tunisia, coastal Libya and Algeria, coastal Morocco and Gibraltar, the Balearic Islands, and the south of Spain including the cities of Huelva, Cadiz, Malaga, and Cartagena although the Byzantines would end up losing control of Spain in 624. The name of the first Exarch of Africa is unknown but the most notable one was the Armenian Heraclius the Elder ruling from 598-610 who was the father of the Byzantine emperor Heraclius (r. 610-641) who set sail from Carthage to Constantinople to overthrow the emperor Phokas (r. 602-610) and found the Heraclian Dynasty which would rule Byzantium until 711. The Exarchate of Africa on the other hand did not last as long as the one in Italy as by the end of the 7th century, the Arab Muslims who had rapidly been sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa constantly defeating the Byzantines would raid into Byzantine territory in North Africa. In 698, with Carthage under siege by the Arabs of the Umayyad Caliphate, the Byzantines commanded by the exarch John the Patrician and the general and to-be emperor Tiberius III with the help of Visigoth soldiers from their kingdom in Spain were unable to defend the city leaving Carthage to fall to the Arabs, thus ending the Byzantine Exarchate of Africa. Years later, the Arabs would make their way into Spain and eventually conquer most of it from the Visigoths.

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Byzantine Carthage, capital of the Exarchate of Africa

 

III. Republic of Venice (697-1797)

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Flag of the Republic of Venice

Watch this for more info on the rise of Venice (from The Arm Chair Historian)

What many do not know is that the famous Republic of Venice that would become a Mediterranean power and its own powerful republic in Renaissance Italy ruling the waters as well as the birthplace of Marco Polo, Titian, Paolo Veronese, Andrea Palladio, Vivaldi, and Giacomo Casanova was born out of the Byzantine Empire. With their fashion styles in the Middle Ages, red and gold flag, and architecture of the Venetians like the Basilica San Marco in Venice, you can already tell that the Byzantines have influenced them a lot. In the 5th century, Germanic barbarian tribes continuously raided into Roman imperial territory in Northern Italy causing the people (Romans from Italy) to find a safe haven, which were the islands of the lagoon where Venice is found today so that the barbarians would not reach them. Fast-forward to the 6th century, the Byzantines have retaken Italy from the Ostrogoths and the Lagoon of Venice falls under their rule under the Exarchate of Italy (once again under Roman rule). The Republic of Venice- known as Serenìsima Repùblica Vèneta in the Venetian language- is traditionally said to be founded in 697 but it was in 726 when the people elected Venice’s first ruler known as the Doge, from the Latin word Dux or “leader”; this system of electing tis leader would remain for the rest of Venice’s existence in the next thousand years instead of having imperial dynasties like how Byzantium did. In 726, the Byzantine emperor Leo III the Isaurian declared the movement of Iconoclasm which was an empire-wide campaign against the veneration of religious icons, which many people of the eastern provinces of the empire agreed to, but in Venice as well as in most parts of the west, this movement was unacceptable which led the people of Venice to rebel against Leo III’s rule by electing their own leader, Orso Ipato who would be the Doge of the Venetian Republic. Leo III in Constantinople however would accept the position of Orso Ipato and the independence of Venice as long as Venice would support Byzantine campaigns in Italy despite the Iconoclast policies of Byzantium. Venice however would continue to be Byzantium’s naval ally for the next centuries to come helping in the wars of the Byzantine emperors such as Basil II the Bulgar Slayer (r. 976-1025) and Alexios I Komnenos (r. 1081-1118) against the Normans in Italy despite Venice being Catholic and Byzantium being Orthodox; Venice also provided the crusaders from Western Europe with ships to reach the Holy Land, brought in spices to Europe through trade in Constantinople, and through relations with the Byzantines introduced the fork to Europe. Good terms between Venice and the Byzantines would come to its end during the reign of Manuel I Komnenos (1143-1180) when the trading influence of Venice was getting too powerful within Byzantines seas making Venice extremely rich and Byzantium suspicious of them leading the Byzantines to rather prefer the other Italian naval power of Genoa as their ally. In 1171, the Venetians in the Byzantine Empire were arrested and imprisoned in the same day as the Byzantines envied their growing influence though this led to even more war between them; some powerful Venetians including the future Doge Enrico Dandolo were blinded causing Venice’s desire for revenge against the Byzantines. In 1204, the Venetians have their revenge when Dandolo now the doge orders the fleet to send the army of the 4th Crusade to Constantinople in which they sack and massacre the people while the Venetians take precious loot from Constantinople to Venice. Once the Latin Empire is established by the crusaders in Constantinople, Venice takes parts of Greece including the islands of Crete and Euboea, at this point Venice grows into a naval empire in the Mediterranean with overseas colonies. In the late Middle Ages, Venice had become an empire in the Mediterranean having several islands including Cyprus as well as parts of the Dalmatian coast in Croatia and inland region next to them in Italy; this was also the same time when Marco Polo from Venice travelled the Silk Route to China. Venice and Byzantium were still bitter enemies though but Venice grew even richer now with the silk trade with Asia but at some points Venice and Byzantium would ally themselves despite differences when at war with the Ottomans. Venice in fact helped the last Byzantine emperor Constantine XI defend Constantinople in 1453 from the final siege by the Ottomans, although it was unsuccessful as the Byzantine Empire came to its end but Venice continued to hold on to its territory in Crete and other islands which would eventually fall to the Ottomans all the way in the 17th century. By the 16th century, the new empires of Spain and Portugal discovered new sea routes to trade with the New World and Asia leading to Venice’s naval decline although in 1571, the Venetian navy assisting the Spanish were able to defeat the fleet of the Ottomans at the Battle of Lepanto. The Venetians though would not be an invincible force as they once were after suffering defeats by the Ottomans and in 1797, the Republic of Venice was dissolved and its remaining territory in Italy and the Dalmatian Coast divided between the French Empire of Napoleon I and the Habsburg Austrian Empire in which the city itself fell to. The story of the Republic of Venice is an interesting one since it was one-of-a-kind in the Middle Ages where it was a republic where a council elected its leader when kings ruled everyhwere but also because trade and commerce combined with a strong army and navy made Venice powerful the same way the Republic of Carthage rose to power in the ancient days; while also Venice had a language of their own which was like Italian but not Italian itself. And just like the Byzantine Empire, the Republic of Venice was another empire that lasted also for 1,100 years making both empires live parallel lives and just like how Byzantium declined in military powers becoming too focused in art and culture, Venice declined that same way too.

Watch this for more info on the 12th century Byzantine-Venetian conflict (from Eastern Roman History)

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Map of all territory the Republic of Venice had in its history
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Division of the Byzantine Empire after 1204, Venice (green) holds Crete, Cephalonia, Corfu, Rhodes, and Euboea
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Map of the Republic of Genoa and its possessions (red)
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Battle of Lepanto, Western Greek coast, 1571, Venice and Spain against the Ottomans

 

IV. Kingdom of Cilician Armenia (1080-1375)

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Kingdom of Armenian Cilicia flag

One of history’s best kept secrets was the Kingdom of Armenia in Cilicia also known as Lesser Armenia which had existed beside the Byzantine Empire when it still ruled and the Crusader kingdoms of the Middle East, true enough this kingdom was also born out of the Byzantine Empire keeping Byzantine traditions. Ever since the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire) began in the 4th century, Armenians had already been living in Asia Minor and in fact had a kingdom of their own for centuries, best known as the Kingdom of Armenia in the northeast of Asia Minor (today’s Turkey) and north of Iran. For a long time, Armenians were successful in the Byzantine Empire becoming Greek in culture but still Armenian in ethnicity with most of them being powerful commanders in the army; famous Byzantine-Armenians include the 6th century general Narses, Emperor Heraclius (r. 610-641) who was half-Armenian, and the emperors Leo V (r. 813-820), Basil I (r. 867-886), Romanos I Lekapenos (r. 920-944), and John I Tzimiskes (r. 969-976) who were of Armenian descent. Despite Armenians living in the Byzantine Empire, they once had a small Christian kingdom of their own dating back in the 4th century and rebuilt in the late 9th century with very old and massive stone cathedrals in the eastern border of the Byzantine Empire which capital was Ani known as the “city of 1,001 churches” and ruled by the Bagratid Dynasty which would eventually rule Georgia later on. In 1045, the Bagratid Dynasty of Armenia collapsed and their kingdom was dissolved when the Byzantines overthrew their last king Gagik II. Ani fell into the control of the Byzantine emperor, then Constantine IX (r. 1042-1055) only for a short time as most of their lands in Asia Minor were lost to the Seljuk Turks after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071; meanwhile, Gagik II was put to death by  Byzantine orders in 1079 after his previous murder of the Byzantine Archbishop of Caesarea by using the archbishop’s dog to kill its master. In the next year, the Armenians would turn out to re-establish a kingdom of their own once again but in a different location, which was the region of Cilicia in the southern coast of Asia Minor, in today’s Southern Turkey and Northern Syria where Tarsus was their capital. The Armenians would form their own state there because many Armenians have lived in this part but also, they did not want to submit to Byzantine rule as they had different Church traditions from that of the Byzantine Orthodox Church. Another reason for the Armenians to establish a new state was to flee from the invading Seljuk Turks that had just defeated the Byzantine army in Manzikert in 1071, and forming their own state meant that the Armenians could protect themselves from Seljuk raids without support from the Byzantines.  The first lord of the independent Cilician Armenia was Roupen or Ruben I (r. 1080-1095), a relative of the last Bagratid Armenian king Gagik II, although Ruben did not have the full authority of a king but as a lord or prince of the region instead, his dynastic successors had the same authority as him too. Cilician Armenia would remain as a principality until 1198 when their lord Leon II, also from the dynasty of Ruben was crowned king, and previously with the recognition of both the Holy Roman emperor Heinrich VI (r. 1191-1197) and the Byzantine emperor Alexios III Angelos (r. 1195-1202), Cilician Armenia became a kingdom with the capital moved to Sis. This Armenian kingdom maintained closer ties to the Westerners than to the Byzantines as they were right next to the Crusader kingdoms in the Middle East and to face against the Muslim threats, particularly from the Mamluks of Egypt and Syria, the Armenians allied themselves with the Mongols. The Kingdom of Cilician Armenia had a change of dynasty in 1252 when Isabella, the daughter of Leon II from the dynasty of Ruben died being succeeded by her husband Hethum I beginning the Hethumid Dynasty which ended with the death of Leon V in 1341 without any heir which made the nobles elect his cousin Constantine II from the French royal House of Lusignan in Cyprus as the new king of the Armenians. The western Lusignan Dynasty would be the last to rule Cilician Armenia as the kingdom fell to the Mamluks in 1375; the Byzantines would outlive them for less than a century but the Ottomans would eventually conquer this region as well. The Armenian kingdom in Cilicia still remains a mystery and an intriguing mix of cultures as they spoke Armenian and kept their old Armenian traditions but also had some Greek traditions from Byzantine influences as this kingdom was born from the Byzantine Empire and even many aspects of Western European culture such as fashion, armor, knights, and the use of French names and titles which were introduced to them by the neighboring Crusader kingdoms and the brief reign of the French Lusignan Dynasty.

Watch this to know more about Armenia’s early history (from Epimetheus). 

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Map of Cilician Armenia (Lesser Armenia) at its greatest extent

 

V. The Serbian Monarchy (626-1371)

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Flag of the Serbian Empire

Just like the Republic of Venice and the Kingdom of Cilician Armenia, Serbia was one power that was born out of the Byzantine Empire by choosing to be independent from it and like Cilician Armenia, Serbia chose to be ruled by a monarchy instead of a republic. It was quoted by the Secretary General for European Affairs Dimitrios K. Katsoudas in 2007 “Greece and Serbia are two countries linked by ancient and inextricable bonds; our relationship is lost in the depths of time; Serbian culture and religion were greatly influenced by our common routes in the great civilisation of Byzantium”. The origins of the Serbian kingdom are shrouded in mystery, although long before the Slavs came in, Serbia was where Constantine the Great, the first Byzantine emperor was born in 272. The Byzantine emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos (r. 913-959) mentions in his book De Administrando Imperio (DAI) that the Serbs formed their state as early as before 626 when an unknown prince known to the Greeks as the “Serbian Archon” led his people- the Slavs from Northwestern Europe- into the land which would be Serbia, north of Byzantine Macedonia and east of the Adriatic Coast and that the land was given to them by the Byzantine emperor Heraclius (r. 610-641) in the condition that the Serbs pay tribute to Byzantium. This book also says that the name of the people “Serbs” comes from the Latin word servus meaning “slaves”. The monarchs after the legendary founder known as the Serbian Archon remain unknown in names and reigning years up until Višeslav, the Archon’s descendant who ruled in 780, although during the early Middle Ages, Serbia wasn’t united but a group of different small states like Raška and Duklja, similar to the map of medieval Germany. Many of Serbia’s cultural influences including the faith of Orthodoxy and church architecture were introduced to them by the Byzantines; as a matter of fact, succession in the Serbian monarchy was also confusing and bloody like how it was with the Byzantines, possibly this was part of the culture introduced to them. For the next centuries, Serbia always faced threats from both the Byzantines and Bulgarian Empires being annexed by the Bulgarians from 924-927 and by the Byzantines under Emperor John I Tzimiskes from 969-976. The Serbs were not happy being under the control of the Byzantines so to keep the Serbs from rebelling, the Byzantine emperor Basil II (r. 976-1025) made Serbia a vassal state that would have their own rulers but in exchange their rulers would support the Byzantine Empire, the Byzantine emperors too could intervene in the political affairs of Serbia and appoint its rulers as Serbia was practically under Byzantine rule. In 1166, the Serbs had gained their full independence from Byzantium as the Serb noble Stefan Nemanja was crowned grand prince beginning the ruling Nemanjić Dynasty of Serbia, which would make Serbia allies with Hungary while Bulgaria would continue to attack them. Stefan Nemanja despite founding a strong dynasty would retire and die as a monk while his son also named Stefan was crowned King of Serbia while the succeeding kings such as Stefan Uroš I, Stefan Dragutin, and Stefan Milutin would make Serbia into a power in the Balkans while Byzantine power was declining. In 1331, the prince Stefan Dušan, rebelled against and overthrew his father, the incompetent King Stefan Uroš III Dečanski and was crowned Stefan Uroš IV Dušan who in 1346 was crowned emperor with Serbia reaching the status of an empire after conquering parts of Greece and Albania from the Byzantines after helping the army of the young emperor John V Palaiologos win the civil war of 1343-1347 against the usurping emperor John VI Kantakouzenos, who the Serbs previously aided from 1341-1343. Stefan Dušan was Serbia’s version of Byzantium’s Justinian I for creating a code of laws for Serbia and Basil II for conquering lands, he was a tall and strong man and he planned to march into Byzantine lands not to conquer it but to save it from falling apart from civil war, although the Byzantine distrusted the Serbs and preferred to hire Ottoman mercenaries to help them instead. During the reign of the warrior emperor Stefan IV Dušan the Mighty, Skopje in today’s Republic of Macedonia was the seat of power, the Church of Serbia was also elevated to the status of a patriarchate like Constantinople, a strong army having units with either western style knight’s armor and Byzantine style plated armor were able to protect his empire but his empire still could not resist the Black Death Plague and by his death in 1355, the Ottomans had already set foot into the Balkans despite the Serbians holding the north of Greece, all of Albania, and today’s Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo with Belgrade as its northern border. Dušan’s son and successor Stefan Uroš V was a weak ruler and died childless in 1371 causing the Serbian Empire was dissolved and divided into 6 Magnate Provinces ruled by 6 families: the Lazarević, Mrnjavčević, Dejanović, Branković, Balšić, and Crnojević. In 1389, the Serbs were heavily defeated by the Ottomans at the Battle of Kosovo- despite the Ottoman Sultan Murad I being assassinated by a Serb- and these Serbian provinces became vassals of the Ottoman Empire which had already gained control of parts of the Balkans. The last empress of Byzantium, Helena Dragaš who was the wife of Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos (r. 1391-1455) and mother of John VIII (r. 1425-1448) and Constantine XI (r. 1449-1453) was from the Magnate House of Dejanović and a daughter of the magnate Konstantin Dejanović who allied with the Ottomans in war but was killed by the Wallachians in the Battle of Rovine in 1395.  Serbia from 1456 would be under Ottoman control despite Ottoman defeat at the Battle of Belgrade; the people would become rebellious against the Ottomans as well as with the rule of the Empire of Austria-Hungary later on, which they hated too and it was this hate that led to the outbreak of World War I in 1914 ending in 1918 where Serbia fell under the Yugoslav Kingdom which turned into a republic which died in 2003 with Serbia and Montenegro combined being the last republic in Yugoslavia as the rest separated. To give a brief overview of Serbia, it is one country with a very complicated history shrouded in mystery but at the same time pressured by outsiders including the Bulgarians, Byzantines, Ottomans, and Austrians which is why its people throughout its history had a strong sense of independence making them warlike. Why the Serbian kingdom/ empire is featured in this article is not because it was a land born out Byzantium when it was given to the Serb Slavs by the emperor Heraclius but because it was heavily influenced by Byzantium that the church architecture, art, fashion, beards, and even blinding among other traditions except for their alphabet (in which they used Cyrillic) of medieval Serbia was based on that of the Byzantines, had many marriages between its royal families and the Byzantine imperial families, and was the birthplace of the Byzantine Empire’s founder Constantine I the Great among other Roman emperors of his time.

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Byzantine Empire in 1025, Serbia encircled in black
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Map of the Serbian Empire at its height in 1355 under Stefan Dušan

Watch this to see how the Empire of Serbia under Dušan expanded from 1331-1372. 

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Battle of Kosovo Field in 1389, Serbs against Ottomans
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Ottoman illustration of the Battle of Belgrade, 1456

Watch this video for more info on Serbia’s defeat by the Ottomans at the Battle of Kosovo, 1389. (from Kings and Generals

 

VI. Banate and Kingdom of Bosnia (1154-1463)

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Flag of the Kingdom of Bosnia (strangely using the French colors)

Like its neighboring Serbia, Bosnia’s early history too is shrouded in mystery but it also has some Byzantine origins as it was part of the land in the Western Balkans that the Byzantines (Romans) reconquered from barbarians during the reign of Justinian I (527-565). As for Bosnia, it was believed in the war during the 1990’s that the country it is today was nothing but an extension of Serbia and Croatia and their people but even if its people are the same Slavs of the area, they have grown culturally different over the centuries. There is a lack of evidence though about how different the people of Bosnia were from those of Croatia and Serbia except that before the Ottomans conquered it in 1463 introducing Islam, the people were either practicing Roman Catholicism as the Croats did and Eastern Orthodoxy as the Serbs did. A known fact is that the lands of Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia were once under Byzantine rule and it is mentioned in the De Administrando Imperio (DAI) of Constantine VII that Bosnia was known as the “little land” being originally a land-locked state, DAI is actually one of the only sources on the medieval history of Bosnia which describes the land. Serbia had already become an independent state from Byzantine rule since the 7th century but by the early 11th century, Basil II annexed the whole Balkans into the Byzantine Empire after defeating the Bulgarian Empire in 1018, although Serbia with Bosnia included would remain having its own ruler under Byzantine protection. The first time Bosnia would become an independent state was from 1082-1101 ruled by a duke until Bosnia was annexed by the Serbian Kingdom in 1101, then in 1136 it was annexed by the Kingdom of Hungary with the future Hungarian king Ladislaus II of the House of Arpad holding the title of Duke of Bosnia until the title was passed down to the Bosnian Borić who would use the title of Ban which was a Slavic title for a person of nobility. Bosnia then became a Banate or vassal state of the Hungarian kingdom until being claimed again by the Byzantine Empire under Emperor Manuel I Komnenos in 1167. In 1180 though, the Banate of Bosnia would be revived with Ban Kulin coming into power first as a vassal of the Byzantines until 1183 then of the Hungarians till his death in 1204. After the death of Kulin, the Bosnian Banate had become independent but still pressured with invasion by Hungary until Hungary was defeated by the Mongol Invasion of 1241-42 leading to Bosnia emerging in power under the Kotromanić Dynasty of bans which would even win some battles over the neighbouring Serbian kingdom. The most successful of the Bosnian bans was Stefan Tvrtko I Kotromanić who was crowned the first King of Bosnia in 1377 and during his reign Bosnia grew rich as it produced 1/5 of Europe’s silver together with neighboring Serbia and Bosnia’s cities became important trading centers. The Kingdom of Bosnia was also at its greatest extent during Tvrtko I’s reign from 1377 to 1391 having a lot of land in the Balkans reaching all the way to the Adriatic Coast or Dalmatian Coast of today’s Croatia even having control of the cities of Split in Croatia and Kotor in Montenegro, although the Bosnian kingdom’s land area was still not as large as the Serbian or Byzantine Empires in that time making Tvrtko I not so much a big name as Serbia’s Stefan Dušan and had up to 3 capitals instead of one. The somewhat “golden age” of Bosnia did not last long enough since after the death of Tvrtko I in 1391, the kingdom’s power gradually declined and in 1463, the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror who had captured Constantinople ending the Byzantine Empire 10 years earlier was able to invade Bosnia where he met little resistance from Stefan II Tomašević, the last Bosnian king who would be captured and beheaded ending the Bosnian kingdom and the establishment of Ottoman rule there. Serbia and most of the Balkans had already fallen to Ottoman rule earlier but by 1482, the Ottomans had already occupied the entire Bosnia beginning the country’s conversion into Islam. The short-lived Bosnian kingdom remains a mystery at the same a place where cultures mix as in the Middle Ages people were either practicing Catholicism or Orthodoxy that the Bosnian Church had some mixed beliefs between 2 religions that both the pope in Rome and the patriarch in Constantinople accused their beliefs of being linked to the Bogomil heretics but its rulers were however Catholic and their culture was a mix between eastern and western, although mostly western sharing the same cultural elements as Hungary and Croatia. On the other hand, both Bosnia and Serbia were mysterious medieval kingdoms as they were deep within the Balkans in a land covered with beautiful countryside, hills, mountains, rivers, and cliffs that had been continuously occupied by many powers for centuries. For Bosnia’s part, it was even more interesting  because of the mix of cultures still seen today as a Bosnian city is where you could find a Catholic and Orthodox church beside a Muslim mosque. Other than this, Bosnia’s royal flag uses the same gold fleur-de-lys on a blue background like the French royal flag does even though they have no connection to each other, it’s just that Bosnia’s royal flag uses its national flower.

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Bosnia (encircled in black) during Justinian I’s Byzantine Empire, 6th century

 

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Kingdom of Bosnia at its greatest extent during the reign of Tvrtko I (1377-1391)
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Catholic church beside Orthodox church, beside Muslim mosque in modern Bosnia

 

VII. Bulgarian Empires (681-1018/ 1185-1396)

Like Serbia and Bosnia, Bulgaria was another power that emerged in Byzantine soil in the Balkans. What is today’s Bulgaria was once Thrace, a territory of the Roman and Byzantine Empires but the Bulgars who settled in these lands did not originate in today’s Bulgaria but from the Ural Mountains in Central Asia (today’s Russia). The Turkic people known as the Bulgars arrived in the Steppes north of the Caspian and Black Seas as early as the 2nd century BC and in 632, the Bulgar leader known as the Khan established his Steppe Empire in today’s Russia and Ukraine surrounding the inland Azov Sea, although this empire would be destroyed shortly after in 670 by the Khazar Empire causing the Bulgars to break into groups where one fled east to where the Volga and Kama Rivers met establishing their own state lasting until it was destroyed by the Mongols in 1241 while the other group fled southwest into the Balkans where they made contact with the Byzantines. When the Bulgars arrived in the Balkans, back then Moesia (today’s Bulgaria), the land had already been occupied by Slavic tribes and the Thracians, who were the natives of the land and in 681, the Bulgars led by Asparukh allied with the Slavs defeated the Byzantines ending the 2-year-war which resulted with the Byzantine emperor Constantine IV (r. 668-685) allowing the Bulgarians to form their own empire north of Byzantine territory with Asparukh as its khan or emperor. The Bulgars had however integrated with the Slavic population, intermarried, and adopted their language which became the Bulgarian language spoken today, although Bulgarian remains quite different from other Slavic languages due to the Turkic origins of the Bulgars. The Bulgars at times were bitter enemies of the Byzantines but also at times close allies such as in 705 when the Bulgarian khan Tervel, the son of Asparukh helped Byzantine Emperor Justinian II regain the throne in which Justinian II gave the title of Caesar to Tervel for his help, making him the first foreigner to receive that title from the Byzantines. Tervel would once again come to the aid of Byzantium in 718 when he helped Emperor Leo III save Constantinople from a massive Arab invasion. Relations between Byzantines and the First Bulgarian Empire however would not always be too good as Bulgarian territory kept on expanding during the 8th and 9th centuries putting pressure on the Byzantines and Constantinople itself which was in Thrace. During the reign of the Bulgarian khan Krum (803-814), the Bulgarian Empire had reached from the Tatra Mountains in Slovakia to the Danube and Dnieper Rivers all the way down to Adrianopolis in Thrace which provoked the Byzantine emperor Nikephoros I (r. 802-811) to go to war with Bulgaria; the Byzantines however were able to reach the Bulgarian capital, Pliška in 811 almost defeating Krum’s army but in a following battle, Nikephoros I and his army were trapped and defeated. Nikephoros I was then killed and it was said that his skull was used by Khan Krum as his drinking cup, a tradition the Steppe people did with their enemies they killed. The Bulgarian Golden Age though would come long After Krum’s reign when Orthodox Christianity was adopted as the empire’s religion and so was the Cyrillic alphabet in the 860s which made Bulgaria develop into a cultural and literary center as well as one of Europe’s 3 most powerful empires next to Byzantium and the Frankish Empire (Carolingian Empire). This Golden Age happened during the reign of Simeon I the Great (893-927) when the Bulgarian Empire covered today’s Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, Albania, as well as parts of Greece and Hungary with Preslav this time as the capital as Byzantine land was pushed down to Southern Greece and Asia Minor. Simeon I was in fact had an army strong enough to take Constantinople that he was crowned Tsar of Bulgarians which meant Caesar or emperor in the Slavic languages, as his empire as well as the Bulgarian Church was equal to that in status to Byzantium; however Simeon I and his successors were having on-and-off conflicts with the Byzantine rulers of the Macedonian Dynasty who were their contemporaries such as Leo VI the Wise (r. 886-912), Alexander (r. 912-913), Romanos I Lekapenos (r. 920-944), and Nikephoros II Phokas (r. 963-969) but at times both empires would be at peace with each other. The tide of war against the Bulgarians changed into the favor of the Byzantines when the Byzantine emperor Nikephoros II Phokas turned the Kievan Rus against the Bulgars in 969 followed by the defeat of the Bulgarians at Arcadiopolis by Emperor John I Tzimiskes in 970. The Bulgarians would however still remain a powerful empire for the next years and Byzantium’s bitter enemy until Byzantine Emperor Basil II (r. 976-1025) completely turned the tide against the Bulgarians at the Battle of Kleidion in 1014  where Byzantium’s army defeated the Bulgarians and taking 15,000 Bulgarian prisoners, blinding them except for 1 in every group of 100 who would lead them back home. When seeing his people blinded, it is said that the Bulgarian tsar Samuil in Ohrid, the capital died of a heart attack and 4 years later in 1018, Basil II with his newly gained title “The Bulgar-Slayer” (Boulgaroktonos in Greek) and the Byzantines had occupied Ohrid bringing the end to the Bulgarian Empire. The Bulgarian Empire may have ended but Ohrid still remained a cultural center for the Byzantines, though the Bulgarians themselves agreed to live under Byzantine rule for the next almost 2 centuries to come.

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Map of the Bulgarian Migrations from Old Bulgaria
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Greatest extent of the First Bulgarian Empire during the reign of Simeon I (893-927)
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Byzantine gains from Bulgaria (bordered with blue), original Bulgarian Empire (orange)

Watch this video for more info on the 717-718 Arab Siege of Constantinople and how the Bulgarians saved Byzantium (from Kings and Generals).  

 

From 1018 to 1185, Bulgaria was under a period of Byzantine rule interrupted only twice, although Byzantium was going through the crisis of the 11th century and it was only in 1185 out a small issue that led Bulgaria to once again be its own empire. In 1185, the newly crowned Byzantine emperor Isaac II Angelos levied a new tax only to raise money for his wedding with Margaret of Hungary, the daughter of King Bela III, though this tax fell heavy on the Bulgarian people. The brothers Theodor, Ivan, and Kaloyan of the noble Asen clan went to the emperor in Thrace to ask for an estate to be granted to them in order to generate money needed to pay the tax but the emperor refused to give it to them leading to the brothers starting an uprising in which the Bulgarian people agreed to. Unlike the first Bulgarian Empire which ended in 1018 defeated by Basil II, the second Bulgarian Empire was really born out of the Byzantine Empire by uprising and its aim was to bring back the glory of the first empire that the Byzantines defeated. The Asen brothers convinced the people that God had decided to free the Bulgarians from Byzantine rule by taking the Icon of St. Demetrios saying it had miraculously flew from Thessalonike to the new church the brothers built in Tarnovo tricking the people that the saint now favors them, and the people joined them in the uprising in which they raided Byzantine cities in Bulgaria including the old capital, Preslav and with the uprising successful, Theodor Asen was crowned as the restored Bulgarian Tsar Petar II and the Second Bulgarian Empire was established with Tarnovo as its capital. Petar II Asen reigned until his death in 1197 and from 1187-1196 he had a joint rule with his brother Ivan Asen I, though Ivan was murdered in 1196 and Petar the next year. The first years of this Bulgarian Empire faced several conflicts against Byzantium and their rulers Isaac II who ruled until he was overthrown by his brother Alexios III in 1195, who still continued to go to war against the Bulgarians. Conflicts between the Bulgarians and the Byzantines were halted when the army of the 4th Crusade sacked Constantinople in 1204; here Kaloyan, the younger Asen brother who came to the throne was offered by the Crusaders to ally with them but he refused and in 1205 with the Latins establishing their empire in Constantinople, Kaloyan defeated them at the Battle of Adrianopolis capturing the first Latin emperor Baldwin I, executing him, and once again doing the ancient Steppe tradition of using his skull as a drinking cup. The Bulgarians would still be enemies with the exiled Byzantines in Nicaea but at times they also made peace with each other through imperial marriages; such as the marriage of Ivan Asen II’s daughter Elena to the future Nicaean emperor Theodore II Laskaris (r. 1254-1258), the son of the emperor John III Vatatzes (r. 1222-1254) and later on with the Byzantine Empire restored in 1261, Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos’ daughter Irene was married to Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Asen III (r. 1279-1280), and Andronikos IV Palaiologos a later emperor (r. 1376-1379) was married to Keratsa-Maria, a daughter of Tsar Ivan Alexander (r. 1331-1371) of the Shishman Dynasty. Bulgaria’s 2nd Empire however did not become as powerful as the first one, although during its height of power during the reign of Ivan Asen II (r. 1218-1241), the empire stretched from the Black Sea to the Adriatic Coast in Albania, although Albania would be lost to the Serbian kingdom. The Bulgarians then would not really be harassed by the Byzantines as they were before as the Byzantines had their own problems to face including civil wars over succession rather than the Latins occupying Constantinople. For the Bulgarians, the Asen Dynasty came to an end in 1280 when Ivan III was overthrown and fled to Constantinople while the short-lived Teter Dynasty took over in Bulgaria, which was when the Bulgarians helped the Byzantines at one point with Tsar George Teter II supporting the army of Andronikos III Palaiologos in the civil war against his grandfather Andronikos II (r. 1282-1328) supported by the Serbians, at the end Andronikos III won the war and became Byzantine emperor in 1328 overthrowing his grandfather. Within their empire, the Bulgarians brought a Renaissance in art and culture just as the first empire did and when it came to fashion, the Bulgarians nobility dressed the same way the Byzantines did while the rulers wore the same Byzantine imperial robes, crowns, and had the same beards but still spoke Bulgarian and used the Cyrillic alphabet instead of the Greek one. The last ruling dynasty of the empire was the Shishman Dynasty reigning for 1323 until the fall of the empire in 1396; in its last years, Bulgaria was weakened by Serbia’s growing imperial power under Stefan Dušan, the Black Death Plague, and the arrival of the Ottomans in Europe. After the death of Tsar Ivan Alexander in 1371, the empire was divided between his sons Ivan Shishman who ruled at Tarnovo until 1395 and Ivan Sratsimir who ruled at Vidin until 1396. In 1396, following the loss of the European Crusader army led by Hungary to the Ottomans at the Battle of Nicopolis, the Second Bulgarian Empire fell when the Ottomans took Vidin while its last ruler Constantine II, Sratsimir’s son was an exiled ruler in Serbia. The monarchy in Bulgaria would be restored almost 5 centuries later in 1879 when Bulgaria became free from Ottoman occupation and the Russian tsar Alexander II appointed his nephew Alexander to be Prince of Bulgaria despite having no possible Bulgarian blood who would be succeeded by Ferdinand I who would become the restored Tsar of Bulgaria in 1908. The last tsar of modern Bulgaria was Simeon II who ruled as a child from 1943-1946 when the monarchy was abolished but when returning to Bulgaria, Simeon II was prime minister from 2001-2005. Both Bulgarian Empires as it turns out lived within the span 1,100 year span of the Byzantine Empire showing how long the Byzantine Empire actually lasted that an empire grew beside them and died out, was revived and collapsed all while Byzantium was still a functioning empire- except when it fell to the 4th Crusade- although shortly after the 2nd Bulgarian Empire fell, the Byzantine Empire fell to the Ottomans too. The first Bulgarian Empire shows how outsiders could adjust and adapt to the land they settled in and take in the culture of their neighbours like Byzantium while the second Bulgarian Empire shows a strong sense of nationalism but also how much Byzantine culture had influenced Bulgaria in art, fashion, philosophy, religion, and architecture. Byzantium and Bulgaria may have been constantly against each other for centuries but at the same time, Byzantium has had a strong impact on the Bulgarians turning them from nomadic steppe people to cultured intellectuals.

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Bulgaria (encircled in black) under the Byzantine Empire (1018-1185)
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Map of the 2nd Bulgarian Empire at its height (1241-1256)

Watch this for more info on the Battle of Nicopolis and the fall of Bulgaria to the Ottomans (from Kings and Generals). 

 

Well, now this concludes part1 of Byzantine related and influenced states that lived at different times from each other, but despite its extremely long content, this is just part 1 as in a few days part 2 will come out. Why this article was a very long one is because there is so much to discuss when it comes to kingdoms and empires that have Byzantine routes and have been born out of Byzantium sharing their cultural and political life despite some of these lands being far away from Constantinople. In fact there were so many things I learned about and have never heard of before until I did research for this article; like I had never known that Serbia was for a time a strong empire under Stefan Dušan that could have defeated and made Byzantium its partner state (like Poland and Lithuania), or that the famous Republic of Venice was born from an uprising against unpopular Byzantine imperial policy and so was the 2nd Bulgarian Empire, and also that the Bulgarians originally came from the Steppes and migrated into the Balkans to be influenced by the Byzantines to turn into civilised and intellectual people from Nomadic warriors. The kingdoms and empires show very moving stories like how the beginning of the Western Roman Empire in 395 was the beginning of its end, that the story of the Byzantine Exarchates show that Byzantine power would not last long enough even back in the early centuries of Byzantium, and that Venice lived parallel lives with Byzantium lasting also for 1,100 years. On the other hand, the states of Serbia and Bulgaria formed on its own but copy-pasted almost every cultural aspect from the Byzantines especially the fashion, art, church architecture, beards, politics, and traditions as Byzantium was their mother-culture, just like how America copied Britain culturally, except that the Bulgarians and Serbians chose to speak their own languages rather than the Greek of the Byzantines. Meanwhile Bosnia and Cilician Armenia show stories of states that formed by its own people but have beforehand been under Byzantine rule and had subconsciously been culturally influenced by Byzantium while at the same time had been influenced by Western Europe too. For me, Bosnia and Serbia turn out to be interesting places during the Middle Ages that aren’t as talked about as much as the Byzantine Empire but it was there where Western European and Byzantine cultures met while Bulgaria was where Byzantine culture was extended too, and a particular person who deserves a future write-up is the first Serbian emperor Stefan Dušan. Out of the 7 states mentioned here, 5; the Western Roman Empire, the Exarchates, Cilician Armenia, Serbia, and the 2 Bulgarian Empires would die out before the Byzantine Empire did in 1453, as Bosnia would soon enough fall to the Ottomans too leaving Venice the only one mentioned here to survive for the next centuries. Anyway, no matter how far these states were from Constantinople today, back then the Byzantine Empire linked countries such as Greece to Serbia, or Bulgaria to Italy which are now far apart these days but still, these countries still have traces of Byzantine culture. Before finishing off, I’d like to say that this article required intensive research especially to get historical facts right and was also a very lengthy one as each part had to mention the histories of various countries and how Byzantium made its mark on them. Luckily, with the help of videos from Kings and Generals among others as well as the book “Eastern Europe” by Tomek Janowski, I was able to find some good amount of information I need. Well, as this article was basically about countries/ empires born out of Byzantium and had been culturally influenced by it and not another one about how Byzantines saw foreign lands, the next one I will post in a few days will be more about “where did Byzantium go” by featuring several states that were formed out of Byzantium during its decline. Now, this concludes A VERY LONG ARTICLE… so stay tuned for part 2 of this! Thanks for viewing!

 

 

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